Coal Tar Sealcoats

Coal Tar Sealcoats

Coal Tar Dispersal; by City of Austin


Scientists have identified a common type of pavement sealcoat, coal tar sealcoats, as an astonishingly significant source of Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) pollutants in streams and lakes adjacent to its application.There are now definitive studies that confirm coal tar sealcoats present a health risk to the public, especially young children. One recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Baylor University found that:

  • For someone who spends their entire lifetime living adjacent to coal tar sealcoated pavement, the average excess lifetime cancer risk is estimated to be 38 times higher than the urban background exposure.
  • More than one-half of the risk occurs during the first 18 years of life, and most of it (84%) is from the ingestion of soil.Williams, E.S.,Mahler, B.J., and Van Metre, P.C. 2013. Cancer risk from incidental ingestion exposures to PAHs associated with coal-tar-sealed pavement. Environ.Sci.Technol. 2012, 47 (2): 1101-1109.
Coal Tar Sealcoats • Communities Opting Out • News • Scientific Studies

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.